FSB Report: The Growth of AI Among Small Firms

The Federation of Small Businesses has recently published the report “Redefining Intelligence”  looking at the current and future potential impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Small Businesses. While it may sound futuristic to some, AI is already here in a big way and we are only in the foothills of what is to come. Businesses need to be aware of the opportunities – and the threats – that the technology offers. It is sobering to think that despite the fantastic strides made in recent months with AI, this is the worst that AI will be. Future developments are likely to be staggering.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was once hailed as something far-fetched and fictional, but almost overnight, it has become part of people’s daily lives. Today, AI outpaces even the rise of the dot.com boom, with today’s headlines now dominated by deepfakes and chatbots like Google Gemini and ChatGPT. However, the current debate often overlooks small businesses and the self-employed.

There are 5.5 million small businesses in the UK and with 20 per cent already using AI, their role in AI’s trajectory is undeniable. Small firms are agile and can make quick changes to their operations, so with the right framework, they will be able to embrace AI at pace. Forgetting them when looking at the opportunities – and risks – AI will bring would be a grave error.

But with AI’s rapid growth, the need for a balanced regulatory framework is urgent. Whether small businesses and the self-employed are adopters of AI or creators of AI, they face vulnerabilities that larger tech companies will be less at risk of. Our report shows that 25 per cent in the information and communication sectors, for instance, fear AI may undermine the long-term viability of their business. Regulation, therefore, is key.

AI powered technologies have the potential to improve business investment and foster growth. The role of Government extends beyond managing threats – it has a pivotal role to play in boosting digital trade, raising productivity, and breaking down barriers to tech adoption.

Read the full FSB Redefining Intelligence report.